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David Lawton

Outside of Providence

My heart is a regional train yard

Sleepy, open to the elements and simmering

Train yard where I saw my first graffiti

Cryptic directions on a wall calling me to New York City

Region of cable spools, crossties and fast food trash

Short bus rusting in a stinging nettle snare

Heart of blue water oil slick rainbows

Sodden baseball diamond without a tarp

My oh my, when they blow the whistle

Oh my oh, when they sound the horn

Is glory always reinstated.


Our Neighbor

Gail lived in the apartment

On the top floor

She always seemed to be around

The German lady said she was a student

For much too long a time

She had a job once as a teacher

But she showed up at school with no shoes on

So they had to send her home

Gail! Gail! Gail! Gail! Gail! Gail! Gail!

The Peruvian super needed access

On behalf of the owners

But Gail sensed a conspiracy

Which kept her on lockdown

Yet when I had a piece of mail of hers

She forced her groaning door a crack

To reveal stacks of boxes and paper sacks

Piled to the ceiling and laid back to back

With barely even the narrowest path

For each step of her uncertain tread

Gail! Gail! Gail! Gail! Gail! Gail! Gail!

Her father called up to her window

While she laid out flat on the floor:

Please come down to see us

For we only want to help you

You can move home to your bedroom

Don’t you know we’ll always love you?...


Who brought the swarthy stranger upstairs

Thief of pictures in the hallway

Made her tears rain down the airshaft


Who showed up screaming at my doorstep

‘Cause the workmen banged the steampipe

Borrowed money from the German

For some mid-life orthodontics

Sat all night atop the stairwell

Once utilities were shut down


Wouldn’t accept the eviction

Rolled her suitcase ‘round the corner

Sat in Krispy Kreme with eyes glazed

Grieved she missed the German’s funeral

Laid a blanket in the churchyard

Lost her smile in the nighttime


Your name

And all its meaning

Like an echo

Slowly spreads out

Through the alleys

Of the isle

Of Manhattan.


David Lawton is the author of the poetry collection Sharp Blue Stream (Three Rooms Press) and chapbook Inspirative (Moonstone Arts), and serves as an editor for greatweatherforMEDIA. He has work currently in Atticus Review and Maintenant 15, and forthcoming in From The Inside: NYC through the eyes of the poets who live here (Blue Light Press) and Without a Doubt: Poems Illustrating Faith (NYQ Books).


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